Cybersecurity Strategies for Small Businesses in 2021

TSP • @myTSPnet


Small businesses are easy targets for hackers and cyberthreats. Hackers seek out valuable yet accessible prey to take advantage of, making small businesses an easy target. The recent attacks on large corporations and government organizations via the SolarWinds attack reveal just how vulnerable all businesses are. While small businesses have different challenges and vulnerabilities related to cybersecurity, the emphasis should be no less than in any other organization.

Incorporating cybersecurity strategies will set your small business up to challenge and defeat hackers. Cybercriminals would much rather move to an easier target when they encounter obstacles rather than fight or navigate the challenges before them. Stay ahead of the hackers by keeping the cyberdefense strategies for your small business up to date in 2021.

Many small businesses use the cloud to provide the support the organization needs. Though cloud systems are accessible, cost-effective and structured, not all are completely secure. When choosing a cloud system for your small business, select one that offers the highest level of security and built-in protections to fight off potential threats and vulnerabilities. You can protect your data assets in the cloud through encryption. Encryption encodes your assets and ensures the data is not readable without a decryption key that only you have access to.

Cloud security is an interaction of technologies, controls, processes and policies that may be personalized to what your small business needs. There are a variety of strategies and tools you can use to personalize your business’ cloud security setup, such as Identity and Access Management (IAM), physical security, threat intelligence, Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS) and Intrusion Prevention Systems (IPS). Cloud security companies are projected to grow exponentially over the next few years in the post-COVID-19 environment. Organizations should research carefully the various vendors to determine which ones might be a good fit to aid in protection.

Implementing network security strategies prevents misuse and unauthorized use of your network’s devices and data. Network security consists of physical, technical and administrative controls. Physical controls protect against unauthorized physical use of your network, such as routers and cabling cupboards.

Technical controls protect your business’ data that is stored in the network from unauthorized personnel and employees. Administrative controls include security policies and processes that control users’ authentication and level of access. One simple way to protect your network is by creating a strong and unique Wi-Fi password.  

Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) and firewalls are security products that are highly effective when implemented correctly. A VPN creates a private network from a public internet connection and provides online privacy and anonymity.

A firewall monitors incoming and outgoing network traffic. Firewalls establish a barrier between your internal network and traffic from external sources to block suspicious traffic such as hackers and viruses.

Always have multiple backups of your business’ data. This ensures you have a backup plan if you ever fall victim to an attack that restricts your access to your data. A loss of your network data could lead to significant financial effects on your business.

You should define your backup strategy from multiple perspectives, including your core business data as well as the work done by individual employees especially in remote work environments. Many backup companies exist to assist with your strategy, or you may define your own. Just make sure this is a focus in 2021 if it has not been already.  

In the current work from home environment, employee training and awareness may be the single most important strategy you can implement in 2021. Stu Sjouwerman, Founder and CEO of KnowBe4, Inc., shares the following in a recent newsletter sent to his subscribers: "Bad guys consider your user their most rewarding attack surface. It takes 3 months to hack hardware, 3 weeks to hack software, and 3 minutes (if that) to hack a human." Your security must start with your users. Make sure to invest in providing processes to help you train your employees on the importance of verifying every online interaction.

Another key element in protecting your employees and organization is determining carefully the amount of access to data each employee needs. The more access you grant, the more vulnerable your data becomes. Restricting access is not considered punitive but protective of the employee and organization.

Cybersecurity should be at the top of your priorities list for all sectors of your business in 2021, not just the IT department. When everyone is dedicated to the security of the business, you’ll see higher success. Ensuring protection against cyberthreats and hackers is a proactive and necessary investment. Wouldn’t you rather make this investment in preparing for a threat, rather than in response to an attack?